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What is walking on the ocean floor like? Day 16

Home for the night (several actually!): Hearth and Hive with Rebekah and Johnathan!!

Distance: unknown amount of wanderings around Hopewell plus 17.4 kms biking

Weather: cool, overcast in the morning, clearing to bright sun but with low temperatures and enough breeze to wear a coat!

B: oatmeal supreme and coffee

L: salad with tuna, apples, half a turkey sandwich, ground cherries, grapefruit and sneaky brews!

D: rice and beans, fresh cucumber salad from the garden, tea


wonders by the sea

sculpted by the ocean blue

changing evermore


It was officially decided, I would not be purchasing the piece of land I had pitched my tent on. Not long after I had settled in for the night a strange sound that I had never heard before came through the trees. It sort of sounded like a a raspy barking noise...but there was too much screech. There are all sorts of critters that make all sorts of noises and I just figured it was out there doing its thing, and I was here in my little tent doing mine. No problem. The calls started to become more frequent, and were certainly coming closer. The animal would have come from the direction of the park's infrastructure and was working its way along the road that follows the shore. It was like a loud RASP!! every time.

Closer and closer and closer until I was pretty convinced it was on the road just 30 m from my tent trying to figure out what was in the bushes. RASP!! RASP!!! I made a whole bunch of ridiculous noises in an attempt to tell the rasp monster that I was present, very large, unpredictable and very unsavoury being to mess with. In return, I received a slew of RASPRASPRASPRASP!!!!!!!!

Sh$@!. Well ok. Hmm. Monster on the road that wants to eat's dark, late and I'm very tired.....there was nothing to do other than lay down and hope I either fell asleep or the thing went away. RASP! RASP! RASP! The mind does crazy things in the dark. There isn't much that makes me nervous in the woods, but this unidentifiable thing had me on edge.

It went on and on and on....and after 30 minutes of hearing no noise of it skulking through the bushes or me being eaten, I decided that I was probably going to survive the night. And now, my nervousness started to shift towards annoyance. RASP!!!!! RASP!!!! It just kept going, at sometimes consistent and sometimes random intervals. And it was loud. An hour had gone by. My curious mind was dying to know what the heck the rasp monster actually was so I pulled out my phone and started researching. Not a male fox, not a female fox. Not a fisher, bobcat or lynx...which I had doubted anyway. It didn't sound like an owl, and there was zero variation in its call. Totally stumped, I laid down again after snapping a recording of the call on my phone. RASP! RASP!!..........RASP!!

Eventually I yelled out to it "Dear, sweet animal monster thing....I would like to sleep.....can you please go rasp somewhere else?!! I know this is your land, but please?! Maybe you should go to bed too!"

RASP! RASP!!!!!!!.............RASP!! RASP!

Frig. And then, it was over my head, Rasping even louder than before, confirming my thought that it was a bird of some sort. It rasped its little heart out right over my tent. And then, there was a second call added to the mix! A different bird with more of a trilling whistle, kind of like a "ping!" They seemed to be calling back and forth to each other and had no intention of quieting down any time soon.

Knowing it was a bird was enough for peace of mind and my nervous system was able to relax. I put my sleeping bag over my head and tried to tune out my avian neighbours. RASP! ping. RASP! Ping. RASP!!!!!.........PING!


Ping. RASP!!!!!!! PING

..............RASP!! ping. RASP!!!!!! ping.........

And then, my alarm went off. It was 6:30 and I had wanted to see the sunrise being camped so close to the water and facing east. Thoroughly groggy, but very much an intact, uneaten human I crawled out of my tent. I had showed up in the dark and had no idea what I would find, kind of like Christmas morning!

I walked down the road towards the shore, admiring the long grasses of the marshland and the rising light of a new day. I spied two very large, very dead standing spruce on the road by my tent and one in the woods about 10 feet from my tent. If I was a loud, mysterious nocturnal and potentially predatory bird, I'd hang out there too! By the way, if any of you have any idea what I might have been hearing, please let me know! I might even be able to eventually imbed the recording I captured here if I'm lucky, no guarantees.

I settled myself down on a rock watching a small flock of sandpipers dabbling around....the tide was still coming in. Low clouds on the eastern horizon masked the sun coming over the trees, but offered a beautiful affect to the rays that shone up and over them. Sunrises always seem extra special as they aren't always seen as much. At least by me.

After sunrise, near North Beach, Hopewell Rocks

The day officially had begun and I strolled back to my home to make a much needed cup of coffee after such a short night's sleep. I sat in the bushes, waiting for my water to boil and observed little birds everywhere! Juncos, goldfinches, all manner of sparrows and lots of unidentifiable small, chirping birds looking for breakfast. We ate together and their calls added a lovely different these birds felt to me compared to last night's! Mostly because I could see them.

Matthieu whom I had stayed with in Sackville was meeting me at the interpretive centre to explore Hopewell Rocks in a little bit, so I pulled together a day bag and went off to find out how the park worked. In classic Adrien fashion, I wandered in through the completely opposite direction that most people do. I passed the kayak outfitters who had closed for the season, some lovely picnic shelters and spied a washroom. Bingo! Park employees were still arriving for the day, it not quite being 9 am, the opening hour. I charged my phone for a bit, brushed my teeth in a SINK and was very grateful I had brought my coffee with me for the morning.

I drifted through the park realizing what scale of an operation the place was. There were wide paths everywhere, lots of signage and even the option of golf cart shuttles for folks needing a lift around the site. Wow! I met a few interpreters and they offered some ideas on how to enjoy the park. Having grown up in a supremely seasonal tourist destination (Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park, Maine) I was curious if the staff of Hopewell were burnt out and ready to stop answering the same questions over and over again.

Turns out, that because of the pandemic, they have been experiencing patronage around 10% of what it usually is. On an average Saturday roughly 3,000 people will come through the park. On the Labour Day weekend that had just passed, they had just a couple hundred and the weather/tides were as perfect as they could have been. Contrary to what I had expected, the wonderful folks I chatted with were missing the visitors and the constant opportunities to share the story and uniqueness of the local landscape.

Everyone was very enthused about my trip and were happy to be able to dive deeper than the usual introductory schpeel about the tides once they knew I lived near Wolfville. I even asked several people if they had any guesses as to what my nocturnal companion could have been....the mystery remained unsolved, despite my best impressions.

High tide was at 9:05 am, which was pretty well right then and the timing couldn't have been better. Matthieu and I would basically have as long as we wanted to explore the beaches for the day, if we were willing to wait for the tide to drop at "the ledges" a part of the rock formation that sticks out into the water and is usually the last place to become accessible with the falling tide.

I still hadn't paid admission and was fully inside the park reading signs and getting the lay of the land. I chatted with a few more interpreters, all of whom were saying how different of a season it had been for them. They did also all say that it's been an incredible season for any of the visitors who came, because it wasn't crowded and everything felt more natural on the beach without hoards of bus tours and large groups.

Finding the admissions kiosk, I bought two tickets and went to wait in the grass for Matthieu and Skipper. Boy, was it ever quiet. The occasional car came and unloaded, but for the most part I laid in the grass without hearing anyone. I was fairly sore from my ride yesterday in my usual problem hip flexor and low back, so I stretched and relaxed in the breeze, eventually dozing off.

I was roused at the sound of a car parking right next to me and a dog barking. My adventure buddies were here! In the hopes of paddling around the rock formations in addition to low tide exploration, Matthieu had brought his canoe, paddles and life jackets. I had asked one of the park folks about the tidal times and access to paddling if we weren't with the tour company. In order to not get stranded by the tide or run out of paddling time it is recommended to be on the water an hour before high tide. Due to the high tide time being right at opening hours, the park wasn't fond of folks getting on the water without full staff presence. The wind was rising anyway, and with my new findings we were still content to wander on foot.

Off to De Moiselle beach first, a beautiful sandy spot overlooking the mud flats and very productive marshland. My French lessons continued and it was really interesting to see how interpretive panels are translated into two languages simultaneously. Not all of the information in the English text was represented in the French and between the two of us we had a unique lens into the world of interpretation I've never had before. Although my French is rusty, even Matthieu was learning new words, ones uniquely specific to this landscape and ecosystem. Words for mudflat and seaside organisms (of which I've forgotten!) were new vocabulary for us both.

Am I the only one who sees a face in the rock?

We began to wind our way along the beach, the giant rock formations exceeding my expectations. There are similar rocks in the part of Nova Scotia I live in, but these were huge and there were so many of them! The conglomerate sandstone was different too....larger chunks of rocks imbedded into the base stone than Kingsport or Evangeline beach at home. Tiny little trees held onto the tops of the stacks like magic. What an unforgiving place to live!!

We had much of the beach to ourselves at the south end of the shore and we were blessed with some amazing displays from some of the local peregrine falcon population. They swooped and dove over us, landing in trees, screeching and going about their business. I have never had a chance to observe them so closely and they truly are remarkable birds, plummeting through the sky at speeds of over 300 km/hr to stun their prey on impact with closed feet like a battering ram. 300 km/hr seemed suspiciously high to both Matthieu and I when we read it on one of the interpretive panels on a trail.....but, regardless of the number, these birds are impressive.

We took in the sights, we took in the other people taking in the sights and leisurely enjoyed walking on the bottom of the sea. It never gets old for me, and this was Matthieu's first real experience with it! When you grow up next to the tides and the ocean, even if it's different than the Bay of Fundy, its always fun and intriguing to watch someone try to make sense of such a powerful and natural phenomenon.

Eventually we found a sunny, sheltered spot for the picnic Matthieu had packed. When asked what I wanted to eat, all I had requested was fresh stuff and momentarily a beautiful spread was laid out in the sand. Life couldn't be better!! We ate and drank our grownup beverages discretely, even though no one was around and Skipper happily chased his ball around. I was so grateful for a delicious and thoughtfully prepared meal that can happen when someone has access to a fridge. I only contributed ground cherries (which had mostly survived the bike ride) to the feast!

Hours went by, the scenery was beautiful and between the colours of the mud, sky, rocks and water it looked beyond High Definition. Sometimes it's hard to believe the natural world is even real it's so exquisite.

Itty bitty Skipper, Matthieu and Andree the Interpreter

The sun started to drop, and an interpreter wandered by saying they were all going home, but we could stay as long as we liked. Knowing I still had to pack up my stuff and had at least an hours ride ahead of me we made our way off the beach. One of the greatest features of the park are the strategically placed foot scrubbing stations at each beach access point! A Tupperware of water, a scrub brush on a rope and a bench in the was time for a Bay of Fundy pedicure! I had been barefoot for the last hour and was happy to not have to stuff mud-crusted feet into my sneakers for my ride to Riverside Albert.

Matthieu, Skipper and I said goodbye, parting ways on the road near my tent. It was such a nice change for me to share beautiful scenery with another appreciative person rather than with Black Beauty. Not that she doesn't understand the beauty around us, but for a bicycle, she's pretty quiet.

Once again, I found myself hustling off into the waning light knowing I'd be arriving at Rebekah and Jonathan's in the dark. Las Vegas Adrien hit the road with lights blinking, vest reflecting and a deep sense of contentment in her heart.

The ride was simple, beautiful even at night and took about an hour. Although it was dark I could see the expansive marshes and landscape that Rebekah had described to me over the phone. She assured me it was beautiful, and I could tell it certainly was. I found their home no problem and victoriously fell into their waiting arms having made it to the first and only time in this whole trip I would sleep in the same place for more than one night.

I plopped down at the table, food and tea was placed in front of me and the speed talking commenced. After having spent so much time meeting new people and connecting on so many levels, it was a relief to be in the company of those who know me as well as I know myself. I felt like I was home and felt proud to have made it so far and so happily all on my own.

Soon it was time for a shower and bed....and I sank into the sheets and subsequently dreamland faster than the mystery bird from the night before could have called out...RASP!!

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Spent a night sleeping on a picnic table there back in 1975. I think. Another secret revealed.

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